ISTANBUL - Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government has waged one of the world's biggest crackdowns on press freedom in recent years, jailing more journalists than Iran, China or Eritrea, a leading media watchdog said on Monday.
The damning report from the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) added to a chorus of criticism from the European Union and rights groups of the EU-candidate country's mass detention of reporters, most of whom are kept in detention while their cases are dealt with.
Around two-thirds were journalists writing about the largely Kurdish southeast, where the government is fighting a separatist rebellion.
The US-based watchdog criticized Erdogan's public disparagement of journalists, the use of pressure tactics to encourage self-censorship, and the launching of thousands of criminal cases against reporters on charges such as "denigrating Turkishness".
"Turkey's press freedom situation has reached a crisis point," the watchdog said in a 50-page report.
"The CPJ has found highly repressive laws ... a criminal procedure code that greatly favors the state; and a harsh anti-press tone set at the highest levels of government," it said.